Investigators suspect unattended candle caused Westsyde house fire

By Jill Sperling
February 22, 2018 - 4:10pm Updated: February 22, 2018 - 5:24pm

KAMLOOPS — An unattended candle is the suspected cause of a fire that caused significant damage to a home on Bank Rd. in Westsyde Wednesday evening. 

The flames quickly engulfed the small home, leaving three Kamloops residents without a place to lay their heads. 

It was a horrifying evening for Derrick McKay, his wife, and their roommate as the three of them watched their house, filled with memories, go up in smoke. 

"This place didn't look like this when we got together," McKay said. "I did a lot of work on it, did a lot of work in the basement, put a new roof and everything on the place, and I was doing work inside, doing new floors and everything. Now I don't have to worry about doing new floors or anything. It's done." 

McKay says his nightmare began around 5:30 p.m., when he heard the screams of his wife and roommate as he was working outside. 

"By the time I got into the house the fire was already well underway in the basement, and it started coming up the stairwell," he said. "I had come back in a couple of times, and the last time I went in I just about went down the stairwell. The place was engulfed in no time. It went up, and all I could do was stand outside and watch it after that."

While McKay is thankful everyone made it out of the home alive, he fears for his cat, which he hasn't seen since before the fire. 

"I got one in the truck, and the other one's missing, and I'm hoping she'll show up. I really do."

According to McKay, BC Hydro had previously cut power to the home, and he had been using a generator to power some of his appliances. 

While fire investigators were unable to do a thorough investigation inside the home, they were able to narrow down potential causes. 

"We did our investigation last night and continued it this morning, and spoke with the homeowner and the tenants that were living in there," said KFR Fire Inspector Kevin Cassidy. "With eliminating all possible ignition sources we narrowed it down to the probable cause was an unattended candle."

"The roommate, she thinks she might have done it by accident," McKay said. "Accidents happen, but it's an unfortunate accident."

With no insurance to help cover the cost of damages, McKay has only one certain plan. 

"Smile and move on, that's all you really can do. "

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